International News

Parlez-vous Bulldog? Two cabover concept vehicles that stood out smartly at Mack Truck's Mid-America Trucking Show display last month were developed jointly with the OEM's parent, Renault V.I. of France. According to Paul Vikner, Mack's executive vp-sales & marketing, comments generated by the show trucks will be used to help determine future product designs geared to expanding the OEM's share of

Parlez-vous Bulldog? Two cabover concept vehicles that stood out smartly at Mack Truck's Mid-America Trucking Show display last month were developed jointly with the OEM's parent, Renault V.I. of France. According to Paul Vikner, Mack's executive vp-sales & marketing, comments generated by the show trucks will be used to help determine future product designs geared to expanding the OEM's share of the longhaul truck market. The high-cabover concept vehicle, designed for 53-ft.-plus trailers, was based on a Renault V.I. Magnum truck and was outfitted with a Mack 460-hp. E-Tech engine, V-MAC III electronics, and Eaton AutoShift transmission. Vikner said the high COE was presented as a "Mack/North American version of its European brother." The low-cabover concept vehicle was based on Renault's Premium model and was intended to demonstrate Mack's and Renault's "new product work in the lower end of Class 8 applications."

Accuride forms joint venture Accuride Corp. has created a joint venture company, Accuride de Mexico, with Industria Automotriz (IaSa), one of Mexico's leading wheel and rim makers. The new firm will design and manufacture wheels and rims in Mexico for light-, medium-, and heavy-duty trucks, as well as other applications. Accuride de Mexico, a separate legal entity, is owned 51% by Accuride and 49% by IaSa. Plans call for completing a new "greenfield" production and headquarters facility near Monterrey in Nuevo Leon by next year. Until that plant is ready, IaSa will manufacture wheel and rim products for the joint venture company. "This movement into Mexico fits our global strategy of providing local manufacturing for our core customers and of establishing operations in growing markets," said Accuride president Bill Gruebel. "It also gives us full North American coverage and opens logical doors for future expansion into Latin America."

Dana buys Brazilian affiliate According to Dana Corp., it has acquired full ownership of SIMESC-Parish, its Brazilian components-manufacturing company, from its joint-venture partner, Wiest S.A. The firm is being renamed Dana Parish Produtos Estruturais S.A. Dana Parish employs approximately 350 people at facilities in Osasco, in the state of Sao Paulo, and Curitiba, in the state of Parana. These operations produce structural products, including full frames and heavy-truck side rails, for such OEMs as Daimler-Benz, Ford Motor Co., Scania AB, and Volvo AB. Dana had held a 60% interest in the firm, which it purchased from Wiest in 1995. Bill Carroll, president of Dana's Automotive Components Group, said completing the acquisition was important to "the integration among our global structural-component operations and to expanding Dana's capacity to develop modular systems." All told, the Toledo-based manufacturer operates 26 facilities in Brazil alone.

Alcoa turns to Europe To free up production capacity in the U.S. that supported overseas markets, Alcoa has started up an aluminum truck-wheel plant in Szekesfehervar, Hungary, near Budapest. Alcoa says the new factory brings wheel production closer to European customers, reducing import and freight charges and shortening delivery times. According to Belgium-based Alcoa Wheel Products Europe, delivery in Europe can be assured within two days. The Hungarian plant represents a $40-million investment by the manufacturer.

Celadon to buy Canadian carrier Indianapolis-based Celadon Group has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Gerth Transport of Kitchener, Ontario, for approximately $20 million and the assumption of debt. Celadon expects the transaction to close before the end of this month, subject to completion of due diligence and government approvals. According to Celadon, Gerth is among Canada's leading truckload van carriers to Mexico. The company fields 306 tractors and 810 trailers, and had 1997 revenues of approximately $35 million. Gerth founders Richard Gerth, president, and Wayne Hadath, vp-sales & marketing, will continue to manage the operation under Celadon. With the addition of Gerth, Celadon will boast a fleet of over 2,100 tractors and 5,500 trailers.

NationaLease adds Mexican partners The National Truck Leasing System (NationaLease) has added two service facilities in Mexico to its North American network. The first facility, Tractocamiones Y Refacciones De Toluca S.A. de C.V., is located in Toluca, just south of Mexico City. The second, Tractoremolques Y Refacciones Del Norte S.A. de C.V. is in Nuevo Leon, Monterrey. "Now," said Robert Bowes, vp-sales & marketing, "our affiliates can address transportation needs that stretch across the Mexican border. Our partnership with two such established organizations in Mexico is a natural progression for our successful national-accounts program."

Orbcomm beams into Thailand Dulles, Va.-based Orbcomm Global has signed a satellite-service agreement with Thailand's Loxley Public Co. Ltd. to establish an operating company dubbed Orbcomm Thailand. According to Orbcomm, the new firm will provide the first low-cost, two-way data and messaging communications system to the Southeast Asian kingdom. "Thailand is a dynamic country of 60-million people and is an economic keystone of Indochina," noted Orbcomm CEO Scott Webster. "We are excited to partner with Loxley to bring the concept of a 'global village' to reality in Thailand."

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